If there’s anything that Sridevi‘s untimely death has taught us, apart from the fact that there is a void that will never be filled, it’s the fact life is unpredictable. And it has the appetite for cruel jokes that one can never be prepared for.
In fact, Irrfan Khan‘s shocking confession of having contracted a rare disease only goes to prove the above-mentioned. Unfortunately, there is another instance at hand and it is as thought-provoking as it can get.
‘Simran’ writer Apurva Asrani recently took to Facebook and wrote a post revealing that he is battling Bell’s Palsy and everything he has been through.
To brush your memory, the writer was involved in an ugly and public spat with Hansal Mehta and Kangana Ranaut whom he had accused of stealing his credits.
He also went on to comment on the ‘ideal’ life we are coaxed into showing off on social media. Read his post here.
Almost two months ago, I woke up with the right side of my face completely paralysed. Fearing a stroke, I was rushed to the hospital, and after an MRI ruled that out, my condition was diagnosed as Bells Palsy—where the facial nerve is inflamed, causing loss of muscle movement.
What causes this is still a mystery, but they gather that it could be a viral infection. Stress is a major factor and god knows I had more than my share of that in 2017. This condition is reversible, but it could take weeks, months or even years in some cases. Mine was accompanied by severe vertigo, and I couldn’t stand without falling over.
After taking antivirals, steroids and doing weeks of physiotherapy and acupuncture, there was still no thaw. One senior neurologist told me to be prepared that if there was nerve damage, I might never recover from this. Fortunately, after a harrowing month, the face finally began to thaw. Everyday there is a little progress, tiny little twitches that promise to grow into something more significant tomorrow. And I wait patiently.
I am certain that in the next few months, there will be significant improvement. But I have to confess that the fear has been indescribable. I have been unable to smile. To shut the right eye. To walk without falling, to eat or even drink water without spillage. When I walked in the street and people looked at me, there wasn’t the warmth that I was used to. My face drooped to one side, one eye wide and unblinking, and my mouth twisted. I realised how blessed I had been to be able to smile, (it really can do wonders for you.)
And I learned so much about my ‘life’ on social media too. Every time someone saw my carefully shot picture, where I withheld the extent of my condition, they’d say ‘why aren’t you smiling? or ‘what’s that weird angle’? or ‘how strange your eye looks’?’ Many would go on about how not smiling doesn’t suit me, and I felt as though I was expected to oblige an ‘audience’ by baring my teeth. And isn’t that the very problem with how we use social media today? We put our best face forward, post a pic that took ten rejected shots to make. Filters that took several minutes to tune. Then you see these pictures and think, so and so looks so good—all the time!
We big ourselves up, showing off our talents, our achievements, our rewards. ‘I got promoted’, ‘I bought this car’, ‘I went on that holiday’. You see these posts and think so and so is doing so well—all the time. And there’s nothing wrong with posting the good stuff, the problem is that nobody’s sharing the shit stuff. The stuff that’s making us fall apart. The bad face days, the lost jobs. The loneliness. The fears. The failures. The ugliness. Aren’t we all those things too?
And I wonder, if we were a society that didn’t set such high standards, wouldn’t life just be easier for everyone? My heart goes out to actors and actresses, who project a perfect life but are crumbling on the inside—unable to show anyone the cracks. We see them happy, performing for us, laughing, dancing for us, and one day when they drop dead, we wonder how this could have happened so suddenly.
Well, it didn’t. It happened over years, while we were applauding their dancing, their spirit, their joys and encouraging them to smile for us.
Every words rings true. People do not spare a chance to show off on social media but nobody delves deep into the insecurities that makes us who we are. We hail Apurva for voicing the unspoken and wish him good health.